single and brilliant!

Recently, a friend was praying for me and she said something like, “I find it so hard to believe that she is still single!”

I’m sure she meant nothing more than for it to be an expression of exasperation in the prayer, but the line did stay with me.

So I asked God, “So really, why is it I am still single?”

And then the reply that came back was: “There are still things that I need to work in you, out of you and through you.”

The verse that came to mind was:

 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

I know that there is a purpose for this singleness season… here are just a few things I’ve discovered lately:

So, what is it that He has got to work in me?

I think that one of the things he has been working in me is to develop a greater sense of what each of us is meant to do on this earth.. that is, to display God’s glory in all that we do.  It’s no longer about what I want, but what does He want out of my life?  What does He call me to do?  I feel a growing desire to die to self daily in order that Christ may live and display His love and grace in my life.

What has He got to work out of me?

By the grace of God, I’ve come to understand myself a lot better this year and recognise that I have many flaws lol.  I still have a lot of the ‘fear of man’ in me which often leaves me paralysed in situations where I know I should speak up against blasphemy or injustice.  He still needs to help me overcome feelings of being rejected by society because of the fact that we have a family member who has autism.  So much growth and lessons to be learnt effectively apart from another individual.

What has He got to work through me?

One of the revelations I had the other day is that, “You know what? As a single person, I’m a highly valuable asset to the Church!” I really liked this article because it highlights a sad oversight in most churches and that is in the area of encouraging those of us that are still single.  And I don’t mean encouraging them to go out there and find themselves a good Christian guy/girl to marry!  But rather that: you are not at a disadvantage at being single – that this is actually such a valuable opportunity for you to be completely and utterly devoted to Christ alone!  That you don’t have to wait until you are married or partnered up to reach your potential as a person or a follower of Christ!

I remember a conversation I had with a friend recently about how to set boundaries when it came to interacting with someone of the opposite sex.  I lamented that it would be so much easier if I was already in a relationship because then it’s like a safe guide or something. But my friend told me that it doesn’t necessarily make things easier.  You’d still have to battle through the same temptations and keep yourself accountable.  I believe her words were something along the lines of: “Just because both parties are in a committed relationship doesn’t mean that you are free from impure thoughts or actions!” That is true.

I think this is a life message of sorts: You can be single and brilliant!  It’s a message I think that needs to be heard and lived out… more to be said on the topic but these are just some of the reasons why I believe God has me single right now – and I’m going to embrace this season for all it’s worth!

– Ames

P.S. This is not a put down of marriage – I still want to get married one day! – this is just a start to regaining an appreciation for the season of singleness!

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quietly thankful

I’m quietly thankful (quiet because the house is).

I’m quietly thankful for a job where I enjoy the work, the people, the culture and the fact that I can still have a life outside of my job.

I’m quietly thankful for my stage of life, namely my singleness (who would have thought!).

I’m quietly thankful for supportive godly parents.

I’m quietly thankful for income that can assist with household expenses.

I’m quietly thankful for key people who have popped up in my life recently.

I’m quietly thankful for opportunities to serve God in all facets of my life.

I’m quietly thankful for time to sit down and write what I’m quietly thankful about :).

Sincerely,

Ames

golden years

Beautiful Lord.

Thank you.

My heart is so full right now with thanksgiving.

I thank you that you’ve blessed me with the knowledge of you in my life from such a young age and that I’ve been able to serve you since my youth.

I thank you that you’ve also been protecting my heart all this time even as I began straying down the wrong path.

Having recently heard one friend lament how hard it is to have a long distance relationship, I’m glad I’m not in one.

Having heard another friend talk about a guy who likes her, she likes him but he has a bad past… I’m glad I’m not in that situation.

Another friend is wondering if she has crossed the friendship line… been there, done that lol.

I thank you for the revelation (perhaps once again hehe) that these are my golden years.  These are the years to cherish.  Being uncomplicated-ly single is a beautiful thing.  There is a special grace on these season.

No need to consider another’s schedule or finances.  No mortgage.  No kids.

These are the years that I’ll be able to serve God in all fullness and passion.

I feel a sense of release and freedom to do all He has called me to do.

To love Him without inhibitions.

To serve Him without restraints.

To go wherever He calls me.

To give generously whatever He quickens me to give.

To be completely satisfied and content not because of earthly blessings but in Christ alone.

Help me, Lord, to treasure these golden years.

– Ames –

expectation

I have just spent the last 4 hours doing household chores – laundry, dishes, folding clothes, cleaning/clearing, packing, washing the fishtank, making shortbread cookies for my brother (they didn’t turn out that nice – but yummy)…

Why??

There are a number of reasons like I feel like I haven’t been pulling my weight in the household as of late; sometimes all I do after dinner is laze in front of the TV and be ever non-productive.  Gotta help out where I can.  Plus doing mundane tasks like folding clothes is quite therapeutic – no need to use any brain power but you feel like you have accomplished something after a pile of clothes disappear into cupboards and drawers before your eyes.

But the main reason is that we’ll have a special guests visiting our family tomorrow (well, today – in about 12 hours lol).  They met us for the first time 2 years ago and gave me words that marked the beginning of a new journey for me.  Looking back now in the last 2 years, much growth has happened and much of what was said has come to pass.

I wait in expectation at just what God will reveal to me about the path ahead…

– Ames – 

thoughts on Les Misérables

It’s been a while since I’ve felt compelled to write a few thoughts about a film, but Les Misérables (2012) left a really strong impression on me.

Not only did the film meet my fairly high expectations – amazing acting, music, singing – it was as epic as the trailers make it out to be! But it was the storyline that touched me on a deeper level.

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*SPOILER ALERT*

The film begins with the release of the convict, Jean Valjean, after he has served a 19 year sentence for stealing a piece of bread.  Though he is a free man, he has been labelled a dangerous man and cannot find a place that would give him work or a shelter from the cold.  He eventually makes it to the doors of a church where the Bishop residing there gives him food and shelter for the night.  While all the household is asleep, Valjean steals all the silver and runs off.  Of course, he is caught by the authorities are brought back before the Bishop.  However, instead of condemning Valjean, the Bishop states that he gave the convict the silver and demands that Valjean be set free. Ashamed of his crime and touched by, Valjean vowed to live an honest life under a new identity.

Without going into too much extra detail, Valjean later becomes a respectable man in society but his past catches up to him in the form of his old parole guard, Javert.  Javert views Jean Valjean as ‘once a thief, always a thief’ and once his real identity was revealed, Javert was determined to bring Valjean down.  However, later on during the revolution, the tables turn and Javert is at the mercy of Valjean.  Instead of taking his revenge, Valjean gives grace to Javert and spares his life.  Javert is confused but determined to ‘give justice’ when he is in the position of power again.  Unfortunately, he is unable to pull the trigger on Valjean the next time he had a chance and so, he concludes that if he cannot give justice, he can no longer live – so he commits suicide.

For me, in this story of redemption and forgiveness, Javert represented the ‘law’.  Law is something that constantly condemns.  It is rigid and is something that we can never quite measure up to, no matter what good we do, we cannot undo our past and it will be held against you forever.

However, there is God’s grace as depicted by the Bishop and then Valjean.  Grace see the potential for greatness.  Grace gives an opportunity for change.  And when the law is touched by grace, it must die.  It cannot exist in conjunction with the law.

The law says you are damned because of what you have done.  Grace says that you don’t deserve it, but you will be given freedom and forgiveness anyway.

“To love another person is to see the face of God.”

– Ames –

P.S. Clearly I wasn’t the only one who saw this parallel – see http://thegospelcoalition.org/mobile/article/tgc/law-and-grace-in-les-mis

the greatest gift

This year’s Christmas was a bit different from Christmases in the past.

At our previous church, the Christmas church service would always be on Christmas eve and then we’d stay at church until midnight and wish each other ‘Merry Christmas’ before going home.  Christmas Day would usually be spent with family on mum’s side, feasting and exchanging gifts.

This year, the exect decision was to go on a ‘retreat’ of sorts with members of our church family.  It probably wasn’t as practical as it was first thought out (not everyone was staying full-time) but God used it for His glory anyway (Isn’t it good that we serve a God who can make something good out of our own bungles?).  It was much more low-key; no decorations at the campsite at all but plenty of time to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.

Though I received fewer gifts this year, I felt very blessed to have been given the greatest gift of all – the reason for the season – Jesus.

What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.

– Philippians 3:8-9 (NIV)

– Ames –

some travel reflections

Hello…

hello…

hello…

Is anybody out there??

Apologies for simply abandoning this blog the moment my last law exam EVER was over.  All I can say is that getting my affairs in order and packing was more time-consuming than I thought and since coming back, it’s been ‘pedal to the metal’ (hope I’ve used the expression right!) with Christmas preparations and what nots.

Though a mere 11 days, my overseas trip was both life-changing and life-affirming.  I’m still working through the lessons I’ve learnt along the way but here are a few reflections to begin with:

1. I’m a lot more independent and street-smart than I get credit for.

I know many people who already did the whole backpacking through Europe multiple times since finishing high school but this was the first time that I’ve ever travelled alone.  To be honest, I wasn’t sure how I would fare but I guess you never know until you try, right?  I realised along the way, that my parents have taught me pretty well and I’m actually quite comfortable getting around a foreign place once I get a hang of the transport system :).

2. Church = Family.

When I met new believers for the first time, usually they will say that when they first enter a church, they feel a sense of God’s love for them and it feels like they’ve come home.  For perhaps the first time in my life, I experienced that for myself as I attended churches or life groups miles away from my own home church.  Each time I joined a new group of believers, conversation just flowed so effortlessly and I felt at ease almost instantly.  I was starting to miss home a bit after leaving Singapore and arriving in HK, but the moment I walked into a church service on Sunday morning, I felt the overwhelming presence and love of God just wash over me and I felt like I had come home… There’s really nothing like being part of the family of God :).

3. I really love my heritage.

During my trip, I found a new sense of appreciation for the inventiveness of the Asian race.  From little things like the ‘S’ shape hooks that were used anywhere and everywhere to hang things in your household to how incredibly efficient their transport systems were  – as an aside, I have a newfound understanding of why people complain so much about Melb’s transport system: when I was waiting 30 mins for a delayed train at Richmond station last Weds, I thought, “This would never happen in Singapore!”

However, the drive to be more efficient and productive also has it’s drawbacks.  People are working longer hours and often on the weekends.  Relationships suffer as a result – a friend told me that the divorce rate in HK is apparently double that of Australia: somewhat odd I would have thought for an Asian/Western country comparison.  When I heard that, I silently thanked God that I live and will be beginning work next year in a nation known for being ‘laid back’ and in a firm that values and advocates for ‘work-life’ balance.

As I was lining up to board my flight back to Australia though, I encountered a bunch of young men who were very rowdy and rude, sniggering and making jokes about a mother and her baby who were also in line.  I could tell from strong accents that they were also from the country I called home.  The swell of pride that I had of being Australian that I had before, slowly deflated and I was left with the revelation that no matter what culture you grow up in, there will be the good and the bad.  Hopefully, having an Asian upbringing in a Western environment means that I can take the good from both cultures and live a purpose-driven life with but knowing when to take it easy, living with honour, respect and integrity.

I think that’s enough for now hehe

More to come, I’m sure ;).

– Ames –